Types of 3PL Providers
Third-Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) are organizations that provide logistics support for companies. This simply means that 3PL providers manage or control the movement and storage of products for the company that hires them. Depending on the type of 3PL, this management (and the 3PL's involvement with the hiring company) can take on different characteristics.
Standard 3PLs perform basic logistics work (See Reference 1). 3PLs in this category manage product storage, transportation, and distribution at the behest of the hiring company. Since these 3PLs only offer basic services, they often offer other services beyond logistics (See Reference 3).
Service Developers offer the logistics support of a standard 3PL along with added infrastructure and management (See Reference 1). Service Developers offer IT support, product tracking, and product security (See Reference 3). Because of this added infrastructure and expertise, companies that hire Service Developer 3PLs can ensure the safety and reliability of their products.
A Customer Adapter 3PL in essence entirely runs the logistics at the behest of the hiring company (See Reference 1). This type of 3PL inherits the logistical operation from the hiring company; it does not create its own operation (See Reference 2). A Customer Adapter 3PL may enhance and improve the existing logistical infrastructure already in place (See Reference 3).
Similar to the Customer Adapter, the Customer Developer takes over the logistics of the hiring company entirely. But, unlike the Customer Adapter, the Developer 3PL integrates itself with the hiring business (See Reference 3). While a Customer Adapter will run a company's logistics department, the Customer Developer will in essence become the company's logistics department.